How Would Dortmund Manager Jurgen Klopp Fit At Arsenal?


Arsenal have gone through a footballing shift away from the 2003-2004 ‘Invincibles’ side which was built around the physical and aggressive central midfield pairing of Patrick Viera and Gilberto.

They were the most dangerous on the counter attack when Thierry Henry was given the freedom to exploit exposed defenses. Like Lukasz Piszczek, Arsenal’s left fullback Ashley Cole was a young forward who was converted into an attack-minded fullback. Kolo Toure, as with Hummels, was a central midfielder who was converted into a center back to initiate attacks from deep.

“Wenger has changed Arsenal into a team that prioritizes possession around smaller, lower energy players who build possession slowly through central midfield, and attempt to “pass the ball into the net”…”

Over the past decade, Wenger has changed Arsenal into a team that prioritizes possession around smaller, lower energy players who build possession slowly through central midfield, and attempt to “pass the ball into the net.”

Jurgen Klopp — who has been linked with the team — would find his first challenge in balancing Arsenal’s possession-style play with his preferred gegenpressing, in an attempt to build a hybrid, team similar to the 2012-2013 Bayern Munich side which beat Dortmund to the Bundesliga title and Champions League trophy.

Arsenal would provide Klopp with a multitude of attacking options. Center forward Danny Welbeck would be first choice over Olivier Giroud, as he provides more defensive energy, is more comfortable playing higher up the field, makes runs behind high defensive lines, is better at linking play, and varies his offensive positioning better than the Frenchman.

Arsenal’s attacking midfield would provide many options between Alexis Sanchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott — who could be rotated to fit a particular need.

When Arsenal emphasize build-up play against teams which play with organized defenses, and force Arsenal to break them down, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sanchez would provide needed technical ability and positional interchange. When they play bigger sides, Klopp would be allowed to play his preferred gegenpressing, and utilize the electric pace of Theo Walcott.

Klopp would need to decide whether Mesut Ozil has a place in his Arsenal squad. Ozil does not have the energy levels to play on the wing and the only position he would naturally fill, is at central attacking midfielder.

When Arsenal are forced to play on the counter attack, spending large portions of the match running without possession, Ozil could play under the center forward but moving laterally instead of directly. However, when Arsenal look to play possession football, he could provide tactical flexibility by drifting from flank to flank, looking to force defensive overloads, creating running lanes for Arsenal’s wingers and central midfielders.

Both Oxlade-Chamberlin and Sanchez are capable of occupying the central attacking midfielder role, and would offer direct central runs behind the oppositions’ high defensive lines. Older attacking midfielders Lukas Podolski and Tomas Rosicky — who have both made overtures about leaving the club to find more playing time — could be sold to generate funds to bring in younger players to fill their positions.

Santiago Cazorla, a technically superior attacking midfielder, does not have the legs to play Klopp’s style, and could be sold back to Spain, where he wants to return to.

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  • In an attempt to build a possession-based team, Arsenal play with no midfield destroyers, instead manning their midfield with a deep lying playmaker — Mikel Arteta — and attacking runners — Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere. Arteta does not have the energy or defensive ability to provide the deep cover Arsenal would need to support Klopp’s system, thus making him unplayable.

    Either Ramsey or Wilshere would start, in a role similar to Ilkay Gundogan, but they would have to sacrifice some of their attacking intentions to provide extra stability to the midfield. Mathieu Flamini — a more physical holding midfielder than Arteta — would be the natural partner for Ramsey or Wilshere, but he would be best used as a backup.

    Arsenal’s first priority would be to sign a holding midfielder to provide the necessary foundation for Klopp’s central midfield. There are many available options — including German internationals Sami Khedira or Lars Bender, with Premier League veteran Morgan Schneiderlin also a reasonable addition.

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    Arsenal are blessed with a pair of quality starting attacking fullbacks in Kieran Gibbs and Mathieu Debuchy, who are comfortable in advanced positions while still being defensively sound. However, they lack depth in the position, with left-back Nacho Monreal, 19 year-old Hector Bellerin, and converted center-back Calum Chambers as the only second-team options.

    Laurent Koscielny, as with Mats Hummels, is the center-back who could step into midfield and initiate attacks. Per Mertesacker, a central defender who provides defensive cover for Koscielny lacks the pace and has struggled with counter attacking runs behind him into space. He is also 30-years-old, the age when Arsenal become hesitant to sign players to new multi-year contracts. Klopp would definitely look to recruit a new partner for Koscielny.